"At the end of the day, boys, you don't tell me how rough the water is, you bring in the ship." – Steve Stone
A Goat Riders Affiliate

Wrigley Rooftop Directory
Ryne Sandberg Fan Page
The Cubdom Photo Gallery
The Cubs Prayer
Cubs Calendar
Jim Hendry Page
Cubs Ownership History
Baseball Business Essays
TheCubdom Hall of Cubs

Recent Blog Updates

Editor's Pick:

Goat Riders of the Apocalypse
Bleed Cubbie Blue
Desipio Media Ventures
Hire Jim Essian!
Cub Reporter
Ivy Chat
Cub Town
Another Cubs Blog
Ghost of Paul Noce
The Cubdom
Thunder Matt's Saloon
View From the Bleachers
WGN-TV Baseball Blog

Honorable Mention:

A Hundred Next Years
A League of Her Own
Agony and Ivy
Bad News Cubs
Baseball Diamond News
Boys of Spring
Chicago Cubs Baseball
Chicago Cubs Blog
Chicago Cubs Online
Church of Baseball
Clark & Addison blog
College of Idiots
Cubs f/x
Cubs Hot Stove
Cubs Hub
Cubs Obsession
Five Outs to go
Gonfalon Cubs
Kosuke Fukodome
Out of Right Field
The Cubs Brickyard
The Other Fifteen
The Ted Lilly Fan Club
Temporary Bleachers


Bush League Times
Cubbie Nation
Holy Cow Bell
Ivy Envy
Towel Drills
Turning Two
Wasting away in Wrigleyville

Soldiering On:

Die-hard Cubs Fun
Fire Dusty Baker
Northside Lounge
Peoria Northsider Report
Yarbage Cub Review

Cubs Sites:

Desipio Boards
North Side Baseball
Inside the Ivy
The Heckler

Just Read 'em!

Baseball Analysts
Baseball Musings
Baseball Prospectus
Baseball Think Factory
Hardball Times


Baseball Toaster
Most Valuable Network
SportsBlog Nation

NL Central

Brew Crew Ball MIL
Bucs Dugout PIT
Crawfish Boxes HOU
Get Up Baby STL
Honest Wagner PIT
Red Hot Mama CIN
Red Reporter CIN
Viva El Birdos STL

NL East

Amazin Avenue NYM
Citizens Blog PHI
Federal Baseball WAS
Fish Stripes FLA
The Good Phight PHI
Sabernomics ATL

NL West

6-4-2 LAD, LAA
AZ Snake Pit AZ
Dodger Thoughts LAD
Ducksnorts SD
Gas Lamp Ball SD
McCovey Chronicles SF
Only Baseball Matters SF
Purple Row COL

AL East

Batters Box TOR
Bronx Banter NYY
Camden Chat BAL
DRays Bay TB
Futility Infielder NYY
Joy of Sox BOS
Over the Monster BOS
Pinstripe Alley NYY
Replacement Level Yankees Weblog NYY

AL Central

Aaron's Baseball Blog MIN
Bless You Boys DET
Let's Go Tribe CLE
Royals Review KC
South Side Sox CHW
Sox Machine CHW
Tiger Blog DET
Twins Geek MIN

AL West

Athletics Nation OAK
Halo's Heaven LAA
Lone Star Ball TEX
Lookout Landing SEA
USS Mariner SEA


Beyond the Boxscore
Minor League Ball

Chicago Sports

Section 8 Fire
Windy City Gridiron Bears

News Sources

Sun-Times Cubs
Daily Herald Sports
Daily Southtown Sports

Wrigley Done Right: The Ultimate Rooftop Experience - Click for tickets

Using TMR's Fan Cost Index to Model the Chicago Cubs Average Ticket Price

Unlike my other economic themed papers, this article was written over a number of sessions during the span of about 3 months. It is written in a stream of consciousness style, and isn't a finished paper by any stretch of the imagination. However, it uses an intermediate level of statistical analysis in a step-by-step method, which concludes with a working model.

Printer Friendly Version

By: Byron Clarke
Begun: April 24, 2004
Last Updated: July 5th,-2004

The Fan Cost Index is maintained by the good folks at Team Marketing Report. Since 1991, they have been ranking Major League Baseball teams based on the cost of taking a family of four (two adults and two children) to the ball park. The FCI is often used as a reference by business writers who write stories about average ticket prices etc. However, there are also many people who rightly point out that the FCI assumes a lot of things that aren't necessarily accurate.

Anyhow, this information can be found in its original form at Team Marketing Report's FCI page. I have compiled these tables by team, instead of by year as TMR has done. Since this site (thecubdom.com) is mainly interested in the Cubs business practices, I have only got the Cubs table to compare to the MLB average. Over the coming weeks, I am planning to attempt to build a least squares analysis of the components affecting ticket prices for the Cubs. My initial hypothesis will be that the major factors affecting the Cubs ticket prices will be

  • The Cubs record the year before
  • Cubs player salaries
  • The White Sox ticket prices
  • MLB Average ticket prices
  • Attendance as a percentage of capacity at Wrigley Field
  • Inflation
  • US GDP growth

This will obviously take some time, a lot of research, and a fair amount of number crunching, but hopefully I will be able to develop a reasonable model by the end of this summer. My goal is to try and explain 90% of the ticket price fluctuations from 1991-2004. Additionally, I am hoping to eventually develop a model of the Cubs revenues from game day operations. For example, with attendance of 38,500 and an average ticket price of $28.45 the Cubs would collect $1.095 million from ticket sales. How much more would the Cubs collect in concessions and merchandise? Eventually, I would like to piece together a fairly accurate financial statement for the Cubs.

Initial Conclusions from the Cubs FCI

As discussed elsewhere, the size of Wrigley Field is an obvious reason that the Cubs are among the upper echelon of teams in ticket prices. I am interested to see that the Cubs have actually reduced prices during some years (1996 and 1998) and probably didn't actually see an increase in real dollars during 1995 and 2003. The most cynical of fans might allege that the Cubs only start winning when it appears that their losing might cause a more permanent effect in ticket prices. I don't really subscribe to that idea, but I do think that the Cubs brass (from the Tribune) might have seen the numbers from the 2003 season and finally realized that it pays to win. I would be extremely interested to see what the Cubs claimed as their profit/loss last year.

Whatever the case may be, it would be difficult to expect the Cubs will lose money this year. With ticket prices increased dramatically, and attendance through the roof early in 2004, I expect the Cubs will be seeing about $100 million in gate receipts alone. However, this may include a fair amount of taxes... lots of research to be done.

Here is the data I compiled from TMR... go check out their site, it is fascinating.


From TMR, explaining the Fan Cost Index (FCI)

Average ticket price represents a weighted average of season ticket prices for general seating categories, determined by factoring the tickets in each price range as a percentage of the total number of seats in each ballpark. Luxury suites are also excluded from the survey. Season-ticket pricing is used for any team that offers some or all tickets at lower prices for customers who buy season tickets.

The Fan Cost Index™ comprises the prices of two (2) adult average-price tickets, two (2) child average-price tickets, two (2) small draft beers, four (4) small soft drinks, four (4) regular-size hot dogs, parking for one (1) car, two (2) game programs and two (2) least expensive, adult-size adustable caps. Costs were determined by telephone calls with representatives of the teams, venues and concessionaires. Identical questions were asked in all interviews.

The Cubs FCI (1991 — 2004)

See the Full Table
Avg. Ticket
% Change
Cubs $10.10 N/A 7 $83.40 N/A 1991 77-83
Cubs $10.87 +7.6% 6 $96.98 +16.3% 1992 78-84
Cubs $11.74 +8.0% 3 $103.96 +7.2% 1993 84-78
Cubs $13.12 +11.8% 4 $108.98 +4.8% 1994 49-64°
Cubs $13.17 +0.4% 4 $112.68 +3.4% 1995 73-71°
Cubs $13.12 -0.4% 7 $116.48 +3.4% 1996 76-86
Cubs $14.63 +11.5% 7 $121.02 +3.9% 1997 68-94
Cubs $14.42 -1.4% 15 $120.18 -0.7% 1998 90-73
Cubs $17.46 +21.1% 9 $134.84 +12.2% 1999 67-95
Cubs $17.55 +0.5% 13 $135.32 +0.4% 2000 65-97
Cubs $21.17 +20.62%* 7 $166.25 +22.86%* 2001 88-74
Cubs $24.05 +13.6% 4 $181.69 +9.3% 2002 67-95
Cubs $24.21 +0.67% 4 $172.84 -4.87% 2003 88-74
Cubs $28.45 +17.53% 2 $194.31 +12.42% 2004  

MLB Average FCI (1991-2004)

See the Full Table
Avg. Ticket
% Change
MLB Average $9.14 N/A $79.41   1991
MLB Average $9.41 +3.0% $86.72 +9.2% 1992
MLB Average $9.73 +3.4% $91.38 +5.4% 1993
MLB Average $10.60 +8.9% $96.41 +5.5% 1994°
MLB Average $10.73 +1.2% $97.55 +1.2% 1995°
MLB Average $11.32 +5.5% $103.07 +5.7% 1996
MLB Average $12.39 +9.4% $107.26 +4.1% 1997
MLB Average $13.66 +10.2% $115.06 +7.3% 1998
MLB Average $15.00 +9.9% $121.76 +5.8% 1999
MLB Average $16.81 +12.1% $132.44 +8.8% 2000
MLB Average $17.64 *+4.9% $140.63 *+6.2% 2001
MLB Average $18.30 +3.8% $145.21 +3.0% 2002
MLB Average $19.01 +3.43% $151.19 +3.48% 2003
MLB Average $19.82 +3.90% $155.52 +2.78% 2004

* — In 2001, TMR did not report % changes in ticket prices or FCI. I calculated the numbers, but I suspect that TMR may have redefined their method of calculating average ticket price (and thus FCI) in 2001.

† — TMR does not note the Team's Won-Loss Record, but I feel that this is an important factor to see alongside ticket price changes.

° — In 1994, a labor dispute caused the season to end August 12. The strike and subsequent lockout caused most MLB teams to play about 18 fewer games in 1995.

‡ — In 1998, the Cubs played 163 regular season games. They played a single playoff game against the San Francisco Giants to determine the National League Wild Card. The Cubs won, and played three games against the Atlanta Braves. In 2003, the Cubs won the NL Central Division. They won a five game NL Division Series against the Atlanta Braves. The Cubs then lost in seven games during the NL Championship Series to the Florida Marlins. Playoff games are not included in the Cub's records.

Year Winning Percentage Cubs Payroll White Sox Tickets MLB Avg Ticket Price Attendance CPI US GDP Level Cubs Ticket Price
1990 0.475 $14,496,000 --- --- 2,243,791 130.7 7,112.5 ---
1991 0.481 $26,923,120 $10.26 $9.14 2,314,250 136.2 7,100.5 $10.10
1992 0.481 $29,060,833 $11.7 $9.41 2,126,720 140.3 7,336.6 $10.87
1993 0.519 $38,303,166 $11.7 $9.73 2,653,763 144.5 7,532.7 $11.74
1994 0.434 $35,717,333 $12.91 $10.60 1,845,208 148.2 7,835.5 $13.12
1995 0.507 $32,460,834 $12.93 $10.73 1,918,265 152.4 8,031.7 $13.17
1996 0.469 $30,954,000 $14.11 $11.32 2,219,110 156.9 8,328.9 $13.12
1997 0.420 $39,829,333 $13.33 $12.39 2,190,308 160.5 8,703.5 $14.63
1998 0.552 $49,383,000 $14.48 $13.66 2,623,194 163 9,066.9 $14.42
1999 0.414 $55,368,500 $15.04 $15.00 2,813,854 166.6 9,470.3 $17.46
2000 0.401 $62,129,333 $14.30 $16.81 2,789,511 172.2 9,817.0 $17.55
2001 0.543 $64,515,833 $18.73 $17.64 2,779,465 177.1 9,866.6 $21.17
2002 0.414 $75,690,833 $18.73 $18.30 2,693,096 179.9 10,083.0 $24.05
2003 0.543 $79,868,333 $22.51 $19.01 2,962,630 184 10,398.0 $24.21
2004 --- $90,560,000 $23.76 $19.82 --- --- --- $28.45

CPI data from: Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI Data.

GDP Data from: Commerce Department Bureau of Economic Analysis. Download the spreadsheet of GDP data.

Cubs Payroll information used from USA Today's Baseball Salary Database.

Cubs Attendance information used from Cubs Year by Year Results.

Because the Cubs (and all other major league teams) set their ticket prices at the end of the year for which they take effect, I have adjusted the data in my calculations by setting ticket dates back one year.

For example: my model of Chicago Cubs 2004 ticket prices is based off of the following factors:

  • 2003 Chicago Cubs winning percentage
  • 2004 Cubs Payroll
  • 2004 White Sox Ticket Prices
  • 2004 Avg. Major League Ticket Prices
  • 2003 Chicago Cubs Attendance
  • 2003 Consumer Price Index Level
  • 2003 US GDP Levels

The first step in building my model has been to find the correlation between Cubs ticket prices and each individual variable.

Variable Correlation with Cubs Ticket Price Coefficient of Determination
Cubs Win % 11.87% 1.41%
Cubs Payroll 97.65% 95.36%
White Sox Ticket Prices 96.92% 93.95%
MLB Ticket Prices 96.16% 92.48%
Avg. Attendance 76.64% 58.75%
CPI 95.04% 90.33%
GDP 95.00% 90.26%
Wrigley Attendance 77.24% 59.66%
Cubs Ticket Price 100% 100%

Perhaps the most interesting number here is also the most obvious number for Cubs fans. The Cubs ticket prices have very little to do with whether the Cubs win or not.

The interpretation of the above table is this: "coefficient of determination" percent of changes in Cubs ticket prices are accounted for by changes in the independent variable. Thus, we would say that the 95.36% of the change in Cubs ticket price over the period from 1991-2004 can be accounted for by examining changes in the Cubs Payroll. From a business standpoint, this seems logical as ticket revenues are the Cubs most significant form of revenue, and Cubs payroll is the most significant expense.

Initial Model

Using Microsoft Excel, I have constructed a multiple regression analysis using Cubs ticket prices from 1991-2004 as the dependent variable, and the above eight variables as the independent variables. I am presenting this work as an initial model now, but will refine it over time.

The model is this:

Cubs ticket price = -7.199 + (11.095 * Cubs win %) + (8.538E-08 * Cubs Payroll) + (0.552 * White Sox Tickets) + (.538 * MLB Avg Ticket Price) + (-1.221E-06 * Avg. Attendance) + (-0.004 * CPI) + (-0.0004 * GDP) + (0.0001764 * total attendance)

Using this model, which has a (coefficient of determination of 99.2%) I have calculated the Cubs projected ticket price for each of the previous 14 years. I have also listed the actual ticket price, and the deviation from the model.

Projected Ticket Price
Actual Ticket Price

Obviously, there are some glitches in this model because there are negative components (CPI, GDP, and average attendance). One of the causes, I believe is that when performing a multiple regression analysis the independent variables are assumed to be infact independent. Well, the MLB average ticket price is actually partially dependent on the Cubs, and the White Sox, so I will eliminate it in my next attempt. I also used Cubs attendance in total, and average Cubs attendance per game. I was attempting to account for the strike shortened years, but having both seems to be degrading the quality of my model. As a result, I will eliminate the average attendance per game because it has a lower coefficient of determination. Finally, because the coefficient of determination is only 1.4% for the Cubs winning percent, I will eliminate this variable.

Trial #2:

I will run a second multiple regression analysis to determine Cubs ticket prices (dependent variable) using the Cubs Payroll, White Sox average ticket price, Total Home Attendance, CPI, and GDP as the independent variables.

Cubs Payroll
White Sox Tickets
GDP Level


Projected Ticket Price
Actual Ticket Price

Trial #3:

After meeting with a professor of mine (thanks to Rex Cutshall), I decided to remove the GDP level because it had a high correlation with the CPI level. This time, my regression results had a coefficient of correlation of 98.12%. However, the p-values, which are a measure of significance were too large on all of my variables, except the White Sox Average ticket price. Below are the results of the third regression I ran.

Cubs Payroll (millions)
White Sox Tickets
Attendance (millions)


Projected Ticket Price
Actual Ticket Price

Additional Trials & Conclusion

At this point, I tried monkeying around with the different variables to try and strike a balance between model significance, model accuracy, and common sense. What I ended up doing was a procedure vaguely similar to a stepwise regression. In a stepwise regression, you begin looking for the variable with the highest coefficient of determination, and then you find the two variable multiple linear regression with the highest coefficient of determination, and keep adding variables until you add an insignificant variable.

I just started with the average White Sox ticket price, because it has consistently had a low p-value in trials #1-3. I then added the Cubs Payroll and found that both variables were significant (p value below .05). However, when I added in the Cubs attendance, I found that the third variable was statistically insignificant.

So, I will conclude this mess by saying: The best model I care to create of the Cubs Ticket Price relies on the average White Sox ticket price, and the Payroll for the Cubs. These two variables form a model which explains 97.9% of the Average Cubs ticket price, and both variables are significant.

Cubs Ticket Price = -$0.53 + ($0.15 x Cubs Payroll in Millions) + ($0.62 x White Sox average Ticket Price)

AddThis Feed Button

Get The Cubdom email updates


Buy baseball tickets from Coast to Coast for cheap Tampa Bay Rays tickets, premium Cubs baseball tickets, San Diego Padres tickets and World Series tickets. We've got the best seats on the net!


JustGreatTickets.com offers the best value for Chicago Cubs tickets, Red Sox Tickets, Yankees tickets and Chicago White Sox tickets. Get Chicago Bears tickets and more Chicago tickets.


Buy football tickets for all leagues including Premiership tickets, Champions League tickets, FA Cup tickets, World Cup 2010 tickets and other Soccer tickets.


TicketLiquidator is a Ticket Broker carrying Chicago Cubs Tickets and Chicago White Sox Tickets. We also have a large supply of Chicago Bulls Tickets, Chicago Bears Tickets and Chicago Blackhawks Tickets, in addition to Concert Tickets. Our inventory of Theater Tickets can't be beat, particularly our selection of Wicked Tickets and Chicago the Musical Tickets.


Chicago Ticket Broker Vivid Seats, sells all the best tickets for your Chicago home base teams. Come watch the Bears at Soldier Field, White Sox at U.S. Cellular and your Chicago Cubs. We also sell tickets for the Chicago Bulls and Blackhawks games. For more info hit up Vividseats.com today!


Buy Football Tickets such as World Cup Tickets 2010, World Cup 2010 Final Tickets, Champions League Tickets , FA Cup Tickets, Manchester United Tickets and many more tickets.


eXTReMe Tracker
Since Mar 18, 2004

OnlineSeats has the very best Cubs tickets during the season for seats throughout Wrigley. We also have unbelievable Bears tickets to every game on the schedule, Bulls tickets to sit back and watch Derrick Rose, and even White Sox tickets to go slumming on the South Side.

Cubs Sale Articles

© 2004 – 2009, Byron Clarke
legal - about thecubdom.com - site index